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Old 30-06-2010, 21:21   #1
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Solar Panels: Feedback, Please . . .

Howdy Folks,

I'm drafting the plans for our solar/radar arch-tower. I've been shopping for solar panels and I think I've found the panel I want to go with. I'm looking at the Kyocera KD135SX-UPU. Can anyone give me any feedback on this unit? Is it a good choice, etc? We are making room for 4 panels on the arch-tower.

While I'm asking, I have another question to ask regarding the tower-arch: What is better? To run the PV panel wiring and radar wiring inside or outside the arch tubing? If it's run outside the tubing then what is the best way to construct something to feed the wires through the deck and on to the voltage regulator? Obviously, running the wiring inside the tubing would make it more difficult to maintenance if needed.

Matt
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Old 30-06-2010, 22:15   #2
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I don't know anything about those particular solar panels.

I have had four panels that are 75 watts each on Exit Only for the past fifteen years. They have been maintenance free, and they are still working. Even with my boat in storage, they keep the gel cell batteries charged which is great. If a hurricane comes through and any water gets into the boat, the bilge pumps will be able to take care of it.

I mounted my panels on the davits. All of my wiring is external and exposed to weather, but it has never had a problem so far.

Here is a photo of our installation on our davits. Also the solar panels tend to keep the dingy from filling up with water in heavy rains because the panels deflect much of the water.

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Old 01-07-2010, 00:10   #3
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Kyocera makes great panels. You'll pay for them, but they are top quality and the square inch / watt ratio is pretty high. Just to show you a price difference, here's a 145w panel for $437 new with 20 year warranty: Solar Cell, Solar Panel, Solar PV, Solar Products, Charge Controllers, Solar Trackers

One of the glaring differences is size, although the panel type and overall quality is going to be a lot better with Kyocera.
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Old 01-07-2010, 00:20   #4
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Kyocera make good solar panels. The models with junction boxes (which I think the model you are considering has) are better than the flying leads for the marine environment.
The wire size required for 4X135W will be large and is difficult to fit in arch tubing, but do this if you can. Tinned wire should not require any maintenance for a long time and the wire needs physical protection.
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Old 01-07-2010, 00:24   #5
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135 watts are good.
So is every extra watt.



We have 2 x 120 watts and thats plenty for us, but.....

you can never have too much
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Old 01-07-2010, 05:47   #6
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I've had two 110W Kyoceras on the back of my boat for almost five years now. They have been great. I've bounced them around in pretty rough seas and have yet to have a problem. I have seen no reduction in power since the day I installed them. A twenty year warranty is impressive in the marine industry. I wouldn't hesitate to buy their panels again. I ran my wires through the davits tubing because it was a short straight run making any future maintenance easy. In my, for what it's worth, opinion easy maintenance is more vital to a pleasant cruise than appearance. Choose the routing that will be easiest to maintain.
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Old 01-07-2010, 07:28   #7
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I've had two 135W Kyoceras running constantly for over two years with no problems. Internal wiring is best and should require minimum maintenance, although I did have a short and it electrified my bimini frame and stern rail, and I had to re-wire once.
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:39   #8
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Dave... You need to add 4 more panels so maxing outs' dinghy is TOTALLY protected from run off... Hmmm. Sounds like a good winter project huh?
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Old 05-07-2010, 18:38   #9
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Recently, someone mentioned the importance/convenience of having a popular sized tubing for the tower so that accessories could easily be added/attached to the tower. Any suggestions on sizes. I think 1" tubing is going to be too small for our application. 2" is robust with the right sized guage. Running wiring inside tubing for 4-6 panels! Is that realistic?...or would I have to combine them in parallel before routing into the tower? Have others had to route wiring in two different posts on the tower?
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Old 05-07-2010, 18:47   #10
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Inside the tubing can create some rough points at entry / exit and I have seen cables cut just there. But it does please the UV freaks, aesthetics huggers, etc..

Outside is just fine and easy access. You will still need a gland though.

If you drill the tubes remember to design them as open bottom or else drill drain holes in the bottom part too.

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Old 05-07-2010, 22:03   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
Kyocera make good solar panels. The models with junction boxes (which I think the model you are considering has) are better than the flying leads for the marine environment.
The wire size required for 4X135W will be large and is difficult to fit in arch tubing, but do this if you can. Tinned wire should not require any maintenance for a long time and the wire needs physical protection.
I'm considering these also, but wondered about the junction box vs. the MC (?) connector types. Why are the junction boxes preferred, better protection against weather and salt spray?

Thanks,

Frank
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Old 06-07-2010, 05:57   #12
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Originally Posted by MoonlightSailor View Post
Running wiring inside tubing for 4-6 panels! Is that realistic?...or would I have to combine them in parallel before routing into the tower? Have others had to route wiring in two different posts on the tower?
The junction box on the Kyocera's have the option of daisy chaining the panels in parallel or series. Either way, there will only be two wires (+ and -) exiting the panel group to feed into the boat, not wires for each panel.

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Old 06-07-2010, 16:23   #13
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If you put them in series between two pairs and then in parallel you will end up with a single 48 volt run carrying around 15 amps of current at peak from the specs you've laid out. With 8 ga wiring you should be just fine for 30 ft run or so with only a 1% voltage drop. Not sure the price your getting, but if you like Kyocera, then these are some of their more efficient models Kyocera KD-210-GX-LPU $2.36/Watt 210 Watt Solar Panel and come in at $2.36 per watt (I've got no association with them, they are just the cheapest supplier I've ever seen).
You'd get the same power, fewer panels, and simply hook them up in parallel and you're good.
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Old 10-07-2010, 19:10   #14
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The newer Sunpower stuff looks at least 20% more efficient by area. Look them up unless you have already bought into smthg else. I cannot spot them on Sunpower site, but talking these modules:

SVB: SUNPOWER solar module from 799,90 €

(SVB Germany, Sunpower, solar modules, etc..)

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Old 10-07-2010, 19:27   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoonlightSailor View Post

While I'm asking, I have another question to ask regarding the tower-arch: What is better? To run the PV panel wiring and radar wiring inside or outside the arch tubing? If it's run outside the tubing then what is the best way to construct something to feed the wires through the deck and on to the voltage regulator? Obviously, running the wiring inside the tubing would make it more difficult to maintenance if needed.
I don't see where running the wires inside the tubing will make maintenance more difficult. The tubing protects the wires, a simple messenger gives you access to the wires, and cleaning/polishing the arch will be far easier with internal wiring.

It only took me about ten minutes to wire my panels inside the arch tubing. That was time well spent, if from nothing but an aesthetic perspective.
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